One lesson for Biketour organising out of 2024 is how much personal connections matter. For people involved in the process could see a clear distinction between project visits that had been arranged only via online-communication and those where we were able to meet the people beforehand. Very special were those where people very actively welcomed us because participants from Biketour 2013 had afterwards spent some months there. One such place was AKSC and other groups in Skopje, Makedonija – another one Rovies in Greece.
By spending the winter in Skopje and afterwards the first month of Biketour 2014 organising in Thessaloniki one former participant connected these two in a special way before any decision on the route had been taken. The impression her Biketour-living ways had left with various groups and people in Skopje made them really want to welcome us. And so they did when we arrived after a long time in Serbia and Kosovo without many hosting projects. A full program for our 4 days had been arranged.
There was an evening of exchange about the different initiatives and activities Biketour participants and members of AKSC were involved in, especially food cooperatives. One afternoon we did an open bike fixing workshop, unfortunately it rained so it remained a private sessions between Biketour participants, the cycling initiative of Skopje and AKSC members. We saw the diversity of the city by going to a Roma neighbourhood working with kids in a permaculture garden set up by Green Ark and Nadež. We did a Critical Mass through the city followed by watching a famous Macedonian movie at KULA cultural centre. In between we also found time to visit the very beautiful Matka Canyon and taste delicious local food.
Our visit to Skopje was also accompanied by a big growth in Biketour participants, bringing a lot of enthusiasm with them while hunting for bicycles in all the bike shops of the city. Although that made our sleeping space quite crowded – different from our wildcamping ways we were used to – having a whole group of people from AKSC come by and engage in conversation everyday made for more exchange with local projects than had happened before.
After getting to know lots of things happening in Makedonija in its capital we cycled three days together with some locals (of which few had participated before) through this beautiful country. On the way we were welcomed to sleep in a village’s common space and treated to more water melons that even 30 people could eat. After we crossed the border we could still see its beautifu landscape for three more days across Lake Dojran.